Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive or record live broadcast television programmes then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

Friday, 31 October 2014

BBC Inspired Halloween Pumpkin

Now then, now then. What have we here?

It's an old image, but you've got to admire the creativity of the pumpkin artist who carved this lantern.

It's guaranteed to keep trick or treating children away from the door, but sadly might not have that effect on visiting TV Licensing goons.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

BBC Keeps Royal TV Licence Details Secret

A question plaguing the nation for decades looks set to remain a secret, after a Tribunal ruled in favour of the BBC.

Journalist Gordon McIntosh, a fellow truth-seeker, has been embroiled in a 2-year battle with the Corporation, after it refused to release details about whether or not the Royal Palaces were covered by a valid TV licence.

The BBC, which is well-known for its evasive handling of information requests, told Gordon that the information was exempt from disclosure as it was personal to the Royal Family. Despite Gordon claiming the request was a "glaringly obvious public interest matter", the BBC refused to be moved.

For what it's worth, we're confident that the Queen does pay for her TV licence. She and the Duke of Edinburgh are entitled to £300 a week winter fuel allowance, so they can well afford it!

Of course, with Her Majesty now being 88 years-old, she could claim a "free" TV licence to cover her living accommodation.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

TV Licensing: Where There's Muck, There's Money

The TV Licensing Blog is excited to report that one of our readers has successfully sued TV Licensing for the costs incurred having to deal with letters it sent to his correctly unlicensed property.

Phil, not his real name, suffered years of harassment at the hands of TV Licensing, despite having told them on several occasions that he did not legally require a TV licence. In common with thousands of innocent non-viewers across the UK, Phil’s pleas fell on deaf ears and TV Licensing continued to send him threatening letters regardless.

He read our article called "Standing Up to TV Licensing Harassment", which we first published back in October 2012. The article told the story of an ordinary member of the public, Richard Herman, who successfully forced a telemarketing firm to pay for the time he wasted having to deal with its unsolicited telephone calls. We reasoned that a legitimately TV licence-free person could use the same strategy to force TV Licensing into paying for the time they wasted having to deal with its letters. It turns out we were right.

Having read our article Phil set about making TV Licensing pay for the inconvenience it had caused him. It was a lengthy process and he had to jump through many legal hoops along the way, but Phil has just received the cheque TV Licensing was adamant it would never send. Like the bully it is TV Licensing is the first to issue hollow threats, but the last to pay any costs ordered by the court. We remind readers of the difficulty Michael Shakespeare had recovering costs from TV Licensing after its unsuccessful attempts to prosecute him.

For the sake of clarity, we shall explain each of Phil's steps in chronological order:
  • 31st October 2012: Using the "TV Licensing Terms Letter" on our Resources page, Phil wrote to TV Licensing explaining that he did not require a TV licence and would charge a processing fee for any TV Licensing threatogram, phone call or visit that he received (image 001 in the accompanying Google Drive folder).
  • 6th November 2012: TV Licensing's Jason Seddon replied to Phil, stating that he had updated its records to reflect the fact that he didn't need a TV licence. TV Licensing also said it would not accept an invoice for time and costs, because Phil hadn't rendered services on its instruction and no agreement existed between them (image 002).
  • 13th November 2012: Phil wrote back to TV Licensing reiterating the terms given in his earlier letter of 31st October. Phil reminded TV Licensing that if it continued to visit or send correspondence, that would denote its acceptance of liability for any processing fee incurred (images 003a/b).
  • 27th May 2014: Despite having earlier received Phil's terms TV Licensing sent a letter to his property. He duly sent it an invoice for £40 to cover the processing fee incurred (image 004).
  • 10th June 2014: TV Licensing's Rebecca Midgley replied to Phil, stating that she had updated its records to reflect the fact that he still didn't require a TV licence. TV Licensing again said that it would not accept an invoice for time and costs, citing the same reasons as before (image 005).
  • 22nd June 2014: Phil wrote back to TV Licensing and told it that payment of the invoice was overdue. The invoice made use of bold black lettering, in much the same way as TV Licensing's threatograms do (image 006).
  • 1st July 2014: TV Licensing's Chris Giles replied to Phil explaining that it never stops writing to any address, because the circumstances might change over time. TV Licensing again refused to pay the processing fee incurred and pointedly stated that any more letters from Phil would be filed without reply (image 007).
  • 6th August 2014: Using the "TV Licensing Letter Before Action" on our Resources page, Phil wrote to TV Licensing. He explained that if it didn't pay the invoice before 20th August he would commence proceedings to recover the outstanding debt in the County Court (image 008).
  • 14th August 2014: TV Licensing's Jianni Cave replied to Phil, seemingly ignoring the fact that Chris Giles had said it wouldn't respond anymore. In a patronising tone TV Licensing gave the following rationale for sending threatograms: “The course of action we pursue is necessary for the prevention of crime, which is itself necessary in a democratic society for public safety and protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Once again TV Licensing said it would not accept Phil's invoice, as no contract existed between them (image 009a/b).
  • 22nd August 2014: At a cost of £25 Phil filed his claim against TV Licensing with the County Court (image 010).
  • 12th September 2014: The County Court entered a judgment against TV Licensing, which had failed to respond to the claim. The court ordered TV Licensing to pay £79.03, which included the original £40 processing fee and reimbursement of court postage costs (image 011).
  • 26th September 2014: Having heard nothing from TV Licensing in the fortnight since a judgment was made against them, Phil decided to stir it into action. He wrote a further letter explaining that if TV Licensing didn't pay the £79.03 he would seek a court warrant to recover the debt. Phil informed TV Licensing that the £50 warrant fee and £6.40 in extra postage costs would be added to the outstanding debt (image 012).
  • 8th October 2014: Having still heard nothing from TV Licensing, Phil instructed the court to issue a warrant. The warrant fee was actually £70 (image 013).
  • 6th October 2014: TV Licensing sent Phil a letter and cheque for £79.03, but it didn't arrive until the day after he had requested a court warrant. In the letter TV Licensing offered some wholly unconvincing sob story about received the judgment late because it had the incorrect post code on it. It's funny how all the other letters managed to find their way to TV Licensing correctly (images 014 and 015).
  • 16th October 2014: TV Licensing, having learnt about the court warrant, wrote a letter to Phil explaining that a second cheque for the balance of £70 was posted a few days earlier, bringing its total payment to the balance of £149.03. Seemingly ruffled by this stage, TV Licensing said the following: “We would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of the full amount ASAP so as to prevent any further enforcement of the warrant.” It would appear that TV Licensing was worried at the prospect of bailiffs calling to recover the debt (image 016).
  • 20th October 2014: Having failed to receive the second cheque TV Licensing claimed to have sent, Phil wrote a final letter demanding payment before he authorised bailiff enforcement of the warrant. For added impact the letter was given a thick red border, akin to a TV Licensing threatogram. Phil told TV Licensing: “I suggest you stop playing games and send a replacement cheque to me immediately.” He also explained that he has no intention of stopping enforcement action until both of TV Licensing’s cheques had cleared (image 017).
  • 28th October 2014: TV Licensing sent Phil a letter in response to his red-bordered final demand of 20th October. Enclosed was a photocopy of the letter and cheque TV Licensing claimed to have posted on 10th October. The 10th October letter said that TV Licensing "would be grateful if you would contact the bailiffs to confirm that these monies have now been paid". By coincidence the original letter and cheque dated 10th October also arrived with Phil (images 18-20).
We have placed copies of Phil’s documents in this Google Drive folder. In the same folder you will find his comments on the whole process.

At several stages in their dialogue TV Licensing told Phil that it wouldn’t accept an invoice, because it hadn’t accepted the terms set out in his initial letter. In our opinion, which is borne out by this recent judgment, TV Licensing’s argument in that respect is seriously flawed. It is accepted that TV Licensing has a statutory duty to make enquiries about the licensable status of unlicensed properties, but it can achieve that goal by sending a single letter. It is totally unreasonable of TV Licensing to continue its aggressive enquiries, when the occupier of a property has already informed it that no TV licence is needed.

Phil told TV Licensing quite clearly from the outset that he didn’t need a TV licence. At that stage TV Licensing had fulfilled its statutory duty of enquiry. Phil also explained that if TV Licensing chose to send further letters, it was accepting liability for any processing fee incurred. TV Licensing made that choice of its own volition. It had previously been warned, in single-syllable words, of the consequences of that making that choice. No-one held a gun to TV Licensing’s head and it could have easily refrained from sending Phil anything else.

Why shouldn’t TV Licensing pay for wasting Phil’s time? TV Licensing knowingly sent letters to a person whose TV-free status was known and who said he didn’t want to receive them. By doing that TV Licensing was expecting an action on the Phil’s part, so why shouldn’t he charge them for the wasted time and effort? Or is TV Licensing making the ludicrous suggestion that it sent letters to Phil without expecting him to take any action? Is TV Licensing seriously trying to claim that it send 100,000 letters every working day, at considerable expense to the TV licence-fee payer, but doesn’t expect anyone to take the time to open and read them? That’s totally absurd, even by TV Licensing’s standards. TV Licensing chose to send further letters to Phil with the expectation that he would spend time reading them, thus it had agreed to his terms.

Phil's court success is a pivotal moment in the fight against TV Licensing's caustic and legally unjustified methods of enquiry. It demonstrates that TV Licensing can be held to account and is not above the law as it often seems to think. For the princely sum of £25 it is possible to cause TV Licensing considerable inconvenience and ultimately, as in the case of Phil, make them pay for their misdeeds. As Phil would testify, suing TV Licensing has not been a difficult process to achieve, despite it eking out time and trying to sicken him into submission. If enough people did this it would have a negative impact on TV Licensing’s (e.g. Capita's) business and it would be forced to rethink its sinister tactics.

With a bit of legal nouse and perseverance the victims of TV Licensing can fight back and we implore them to do so. Now the precedent has been set, anyone receiving TV Licensing’s noxious correspondence might like to take court action of their own. We really think that a few more CCJs against TV Licensing will help focus its mind. Full details are given in our “Standing Up to TV Licensing Harassment” article.

It's time to make a collective stand against TV Licensing threats, harassment and intimidation.

Anyone seeking further information about this article can contact us via the email address on the sidebar.

TV Licensing Goon Accused of Inaccurate Record Keeping

A West Midlands TV Licensing goon has been accused of malpractice by a care worker wrongly summoned to court on TV licence evasion charges.

Radhika, not her real name, received a summons in relation to an offence TV Licensing claim she committed on 10th June 2014. In reality, as someone who never receives live TV programmes, she doesn't need a TV licence at all.

In her email she explained how a TV Licensing goon visited her Bilston home on the evening of 11th June 2014. She was making dinner at the time and invited him into the kitchen for a chat - a decision she now regrets.

The goon asked Radhika whether she had a TV licence, to which she replied "No, as I do not watch live TV programmes. I don't have the time". The 28-year-old admitted having a TV set, which she said was used for playing games and watching on-demand content via Netflix. Neither of those situations legally need a TV licence.

Radhika offered to show the goon her legally-licence-free set-up, but he declined when told there was a dog in the same room.

By this stage the goon was outstaying his welcome and Radhika was keen to get on with her dinner. As the visit had been uneventful from her point of view, she had no problem signing the goon's paperwork and wishing him a good evening. Unfortunately she paid very little attention to what was actually written on the form before signing it.

Skip forward five months and Radhika has now received a copy of the TVL178 Record of Interview form she unwittingly signed that evening. Reading the form more carefully, she now realises it bears little resemblance to the events of 11th June. 

Of course, with the passage of time, Radhika can't remember the fine detail of such an uneventful visit, but she is quite adamant that the goon never cautioned her. She is also quite definite that the goon never asked about when she last watched TV programmes.

We have no trouble at all believing Radhika's account. Her email demonstrates a clear understanding of the law and we're confident she would have elaborated the same to the goon who visited. Cases like this, where the recollections of the goon and occupier are at odds, are sadly quite common.

It is unfortunate, but Radhika will now face an uphill struggle trying to clear her name of an offence she has not committed.

Radhika's case aptly demonstrates why total non-contact with TV Licensing is the best option for the legally-licence-free.

We have previously challenged the BBC on why it often takes 5 or 6 months for TV Licensing to start a prosecution. TV Licensing must inform the court of its intention to prosecute (called "laying information") within 6-months of the alleged offence, but a delay of several months is clearly detrimental to the defendant. The BBC denies any skulduggery, but we don't believe them.

The BBC and TV Licensing will read about this case tomorrow morning. We somehow doubt they'd even raise an eyebrow at the Spanish practices becoming endemic in their organisation.

Edit: It has been an eventful evening. Radhika has just been back in touch to say that she has returned the summons indicating a not guilty plea. She also mentioned for the first time that she has a witness who is prepared to corroborate the fact that the goon didn't caution her or ask any questions about when she last watched live TV programmes. This is a very significant development and could well swing the case in her favour. We have asked her to keep us informed of developments.